CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies are in rebuilding mode and trying to trade veterans for young talent. Cole Hamels sits atop that list of vets and Roy Halladay does not envy the next several months for the Phillies' left-hander.
"It is very tough, very tough," said Halladay, who lived through trade speculation with the Blue Jays in 2009. "I know for me, I had a lot of emotions. I felt like I had a few years left to try to accomplish things that I wanted to accomplish and in Toronto, they were going in a different direction than where I needed to go. That was very difficult. It was a distraction. It was a struggle."
Every time Halladay pitched that season somebody asked him about it.
No matter how much he tried, he simply could not avoid it. And he also had to pitch on a team he knew was not going to compete for a World Series, a situation Hamels will find himself in this season.
"It is a grind. It's an absolute grind," Halladay said. "You're pitching for your team. You're pitching for yourself. You're pitching for the rest of your career, but you're not pitching for anything. It's tough. And for me, the hardest thing was answering the questions about do you really want to leave, do you want to go somewhere else, what's it going to be like to leave. That was hard to answer those questions after every start. That was difficult. It's something you have to do, but it was difficult."
Halladay finally got traded to the Phillies in December 2009, but he never got the World Series championship he wanted. The Phillies reached the NL Championship Series in 2010 and NL Division Series in 2011.
The Phillies were the best team in baseball in 2011, winning a franchise-record 102 games. They lost Game 5 of the NLDS to the Cardinals, 1-0.
"That last game in 2011 was really kind of a turning point for me in my career and I think at the same time it was for the Phillies' organization," said Halladay, who started that game. "[General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and I] were talking about the turn the organization has made since that point. I really think they're really doing the right thing right now. It's tough to let some of those guys go and kind of start a new chapter, especially in Philadelphia where the players are so loved by the fans. But it's essential. It's essential at some point.
"There's going to be hard feelings. It's not an easy job to dismantle something like that. I know that's not the goal. They still want to be competitive and do the best they can to transition, but at some point you have to kind of say good-bye to some of the mainstays. I think it's best for everybody. I think they're approaching that cautiously and doing the best they can."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.